Time is a scarce resource for busy people, and for Royal Dutch Shell’s Group Portfolio Advisor Gokhan Tekiner, it helps to save as much of it as he can while pursuing the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) professional qualification, all while juggling a business role and a family life which demand a lot of him.
“CIMA’s Corporate Business Leaders Challenge (CBLC) and Global C-suite Business & Finance Programme offered a rich curriculum and practical tools to recognize and solve common finance and business problems,” says 35-year-old Gokhan, who is coming to his 10th year at Shell. “Not only was the material relevant to me for my day-to-day work, but the CBLC offered a busy, more experienced professional like myself a fast-track opportunity to attain the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation and complement my business and leadership skills.”
Gokhan began his career at Shell in commerce and finance before joining company’s Group Strategy & Portfolio team. In his current role, he supports Shell’s executive committee and board in shaping the company’s future aspired portfolio, which will chart Shell’s direction for the next 50 years in the energy industry. It is time for him to do the CIMA qualification as the energy industry is undergoing tremendous change, from the society’s push for cleaner energy to the immense pressure on the energy companies to deliver competitive and sustainable results in a lower oil price environment.
CIMA qualification offered Gokhan an opportunity to build confidence around his capabilities while its CGMA designation will certainly boost his professional standing. “CIMA has an established, well-respected brand name recognized by the company I work for as well as by the wider industry. Compared to other professional finance qualifications, CIMA managed to keep itself relevant, up-to-date and practical, which played a role in my decision to pursue the program.”
He cites the CBLC, which is eligible for professionals with 3 years of relevant experience, as a testament to this relevance. “The case studies that were offered in the challenge were supported with plausible, real-life business problems” Gokhan explains. “Most of these problems resonated with me and I was able to relate them to my own experience and skills at a practical level.” Gokhan’s ability was obvious as he became the winner of the final challenge for CBLC with his college team partner. Clearing the CBLC hurdle on his first try enabled him to go straight to the Strategic Case Study level of the CIMA qualification, the Global C-suite Business & Finance Programme, which he also passed.
Along with the real-life problems, participants of the CBLC were assigned coaches to provide support while they were handling the challenge. During the challenge, Gokhan was not the only one who brought work experience to the table. The other participants were also people with a wealth of knowledge from different industries, which introduced different perspectives to the programme.
“What I saw in the Challenge was a group of talented business leaders who were comfortable stating and defending their ideas,” says Gokhan. “We had people from large multinationals as well as startups, and the way everyone approached a given business problem was so varied.” Each team’s presentation was done before an experienced panel of judges comprising corporate world leaders, who role-played as a fictional “Board of Directors” to mimic a real-life scenario.
What were some of his takeaways from his time with the CIMA qualification? “Well, there’s no one road that leads to Rome, and yet there is always a better one.” he laughs. “The final challenge was a great example of how people’s own experience defines their mental framework and approach to problem-solving. Ensuring these dissenting opinions are heard is what stimulates divergent thinking and helps us arrive at a better solution in the end.” It is this exposure that helped Gokhan to reassure the need to surround himself with people of diverse backgrounds and opinions.
Another takeaway for him was how the CIMA qualification taught him to think naturally about various strategic lenses such as stakeholder and competitor analysis. “In my work, we use sophisticated tools to look at the impact of “what if” scenarios on our business and key stakeholders through different lenses. CIMA programme’s constant emphasis on them made utilizing those tools effectively second nature to me. So when I am developing strategic roadmaps, I am already thinking organically about how a given pathway could position our company with respect to our competition and impact our stakeholders – this is a great unit of the programme.”
On a personal level, he speaks a lot about leadership and its relationship with ethics in his current role. What do blending ethics and leadership mean to him? “For me, it means having a clear identity about who you are, understanding your own strengths and limitations, and setting realistic targets,” Gokhan explains. “When we work with ethics, it means no shortcuts, and if you set realistic targets and promote an open and honest culture, your organization will less likely feel the need to take shortcuts. Therefore, good business ethics begins at the leadership level, and flows into the DNA of the company.”
Gokhan takes his own advice on leadership by keeping up continuous self-development, despite his time-consuming role at Shell. “At Shell, we change roles around every 4 years. It is important to keep your skills up-to-date and to always learn,” he says. “The CIMA qualification offers the opportunity for finance professionals to enhance their skills and stay current with the emerging needs and themes of finance management, and it’s a good branding for the individual. For me personally, it was a worthwhile commitment even though I had to complete it in such a short period of time.”
While waiting to receive his CGMA designation, Gokhan is now looking forward to using the skills and experience that he gained during his time with CIMA to continue his career with Shell. “We are shaping the trajectory of the company in response to the world’s growing demand for more and cleaner energy and our society’s evolving requirements. I am really excited to see what will come in the future,” he concluded.